Changing the channel

Computing may not be omnipresent or omniscient but it is certainly widespread and pervasive.

The expectation of being able to travel anywhere and pay for things by credit card or at least find an ATM. The expectation of electricity and telecommunications – whether fixed line, widespread mobile signals or at very least a cyber centre. The assumption that power is anywhere, despite the fact I may need an adaptor for my socket. Can I therefore say that this aspect of technology is ubiquitous and widespread? The expectation would deem it so and force the others to follow suit. Online and in business the English language language is already seen as ubiquitous, i.e. pervasive though not exclusive. The global village means its no longer sufficient to learn the language of my neighboring country France, but rather dominant force such as Chinese (alongside Spanish).

We are aware that in certain parts of Africa some people have no access to food or even clean water. There are always exceptions to the rule. There are also remote parts of africa where business on a mobile phone, checking stock supplies and arrivals of fruit and grain or relying on a call to be able to taxi someone arriving at an airport and thereby make a living. This is more akin to a pure reliance on technology for commercial business usage then merely sending an email via a blackberry in the west. Despite cultural differences, computing technology is a unifying force across the planet and removing vast walls.

With sensors in cars to monitor road conditions and adjust speed or fuel mix to sensors in air, electricity and water flows at utility plants monitoring your domestic consumption. Certain BMW cars can now be reset through a telephone operator who can ‘log in’ to your car on the side of a highway. Your refrigerator talks to the utility plant to where out where to send more electricity, and in fact switches itself off when norms are reached. Intelligent CCTV cameras spotting when items are left unattended or things looking out of place and automatically zooming in on items and triggering alert calls. We are finding computing blending into the background of everyday lives in new, exciting and sometimes startling ways.

In terms of logical computer processing we are seeing a power-shift in moving the thinking, the intelligence to the system – uploading the processing to ‘the cloud’. This seems to be psychosomatic of modern culture too. It is no longer sufficient for us to individually remember and process ‘1066’ and what happened on that date as Google means we can answer that question from a mobile in any corner of the globe. Education and understanding should come from the application of that number and trying to discover the significance of what that date means as opposed to rote facts of what happened on that date. It is in reading between the lines people are educated as opposed to merely informed. In the same way times-tables and log books gave way to a calculator, now we are eclipsing not just maths but all aspects of learning. It is happening on a global scale.

Just as on the cloud computing power moves from local machines into data centre’s and needs little processing or storage locally on ‘dumb terminals’, so too we are shifting the thinking away from individuals into a collective consciousness with potentially equally devastating effects as we develop this ambient intelligence. Allowing the system to monitor, store and analyze what is happening, and predict what should happen next for the ‘greater good’.

Theologians and philosophers have warned us about over the centuries; basically do not trust in man or our own achievements – kingdoms rise and fall at an alarming rate. Instead of learning from our past and making the same logical conclusions for warnings for the future, we instead blindly trust that science and technology will have the answers tomorrow, if not today. This is a blind faith in untested science, equal to the criticisms of those who have religious convictions. It is sheep going astray – the blind leading the blind – and a flat-out refusal to listen or learn from those who have gone before, especially those who have suffered and died under or standing against oppressive global empires.

From wild animals being RFID tagged to monitor stock movements through streams and seas, to domestic pets able to access their own homes and prevent unwanted pets from walking in – or helping relocate a lost animal to its rightful home. The same technological thinking now ushering in a system from tagging prisoners to employees, from hotel guests to commuters – the mass roll out of identification for access and monitoring purposes – we call it ‘learning’ in order to foster a better future. The reality sees a tattooing and tagging akin to a global ‘prison earth’ where each is locked into the grid for their own good and lets them believe they have nothing to hide. It is based in fear of the minority can hurt the masses, that ultimately seen in a few entrapping the masses. What we are witnessing here is a ubiquitous ‘computing’ shift not just into little tiny microprocessors hidden in sensors in our streets, homes, businesses or cars but a societal shift into the great ‘wiki’ of life. We convince ourselves that all are learning how to improve, that we are working to same ends, an overarching belief in positiveness: peace on earth. Our own human ‘computing’ powers are becoming ‘ubiquitous’ – constantly encountered and connected – and becoming secondary to that of the ‘system’ we are rushing to create.

Ubiquitous computing (UbiComp) is as philosophical as it is technological. It comes down to thinking, not just processing. We are even trying to solve artificial intelligence and give rights to robots. Distorted thinking of task-driven drone bees, not in terms of human reasoning that equally embraces the ‘spiritual’ and questions the soul beyond mere neuroscience. We believe ‘computing’ is and should be ubiquitous – but it should be seen in inter-relationship of diverse parts. Equality embraces key differences, not seeks to remove the diversity in favour of uniformity under the guise of ubiquitousness.

As governments unite around the world for ‘security’ reasons – whether that is environmental, political or religious stability, technology affords the very widespread belief that we can recreate omnipresent (all seeing), omniscient (all knowing) into the the omnipotent (all powerful) collective conscious system that will herald this time of peace on earth. A foolish lie from the pseudo-scientists of dictators. A lie from the pit of hell. Building up the walls around our gardens to keep the eyes of the prying neighbours at bay, only to realise in doing so we have prevented any sunshine from ever reaching our own little garden we wish to enjoy, tend and nurture. We have removed what is the essence of life and living. Something that is, and must remain, removed from distorted human logic.

I guess thats why a virgin birth was chosen to herald peace on earth. It defies and continues to challenge our human sense of logic.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9: 6

I truly wish you all a very Merry Christmas.